Top officials at the World Health Organization this week have sought to differentiate the spreading novel coronavirus from influenza, with the underlying message that while seasonal flu cannot be stopped, countries still have the chance to limit cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus.

“This virus is not SARS, it’s not MERS, and it’s not influenza,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing Tuesday, referencing other coronaviruses that have caused smaller outbreaks. “It is a unique virus with unique characteristics.”

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